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The gloves are off in what appears to be a nascent rivalry between Pillsbury Winthrop and Latham & Watkins. A day after Los Angeles-based Latham announced it had poached mergers and acquisitions partner Frode Jensen from San Francisco-based Pillsbury’s Stamford, Conn., office, Pillsbury responded by publicly denouncing the defector. In a press release Chairwoman Mary Cranston said was meant to “correct the record,” Pillsbury said Jensen had been embroiled in an internal investigation involving allegations of sexual harassment, and that he had been “largely absent from the Stamford office since the start of this year.” The unusual move by Pillsbury highlights what could be a growing rivalry between the two firms and puts pressure on Latham’s public image. “It raises the bar for Latham. They now have to think about something,” said one legal consultant who wished to remain anonymous. He said Pillsbury may be trying to create a public perception that it is less tolerant of harassment than Latham. Jensen, who is slated to begin working in Latham’s New York office in October, could not be reached for comment. Latham announced its newest lateral Tuesday in a two-page press release trumpeting Jensen’s broad experience handling corporate and securities transactions. Jensen had spent 14 years at Winthrop Stimson, which merged with Pillsbury Madison & Sutro last year to create Pillsbury Winthrop. Jensen had served as co-head of the firm’s M&A practice. “We know Frode well from the opposite side of the table,” said Latham’s New York Corporate Chair Kirk Davenport in the firm’s press release announcing the new addition. “He is a very capable lawyer, and his extensive contacts and experience in several industries, including the biotechnology sector, will be an asset to our New York corporate practice.” Davenport would not comment on Pillsbury’s press release other than to say he was surprised by it. Jensen’s move comes a few months after Latham grabbed San Francisco rainmaker Stephen Stublarec and litigator Christopher Byers from Pillsbury. Davenport insisted there was no bad blood between the two firms and said, “We think Pillsbury is a fine firm. We look forward to having a long and fruitful relationship for many years to come.” Cranston said Pillsbury decided to act because it felt Latham’s press release was misleading. “It was the notion that a leader of Pillsbury was defecting,” said Cranston. “That wasn’t true at the time he left.” According to Cranston, Jensen had withdrawn from active practice and had not been doing much for the past eight months. Cranston declined to provide more details on the allegations of sexual harassment mentioned in Pillsbury’s release. “We really don’t want to put a lot of stuff out there. We corrected the record and that’s really where we want it to stand,” said Cranston. In the release, Cranston is quoted as saying the firm “investigated the harassment claims, concluded that there was a reasonable likelihood that harassment had occurred and responded with a variety of measures.” “It is always sad to lose a friend and colleague to another firm,” the statement went on, “however, under the circumstances of the past year, Mr. Jensen’s move is probably in the best interest of all concerned, and we wish him well with his new firm.”
FULL TEXT OF PILLSBURY WINTHROP PRESS RELEASE: PILLSBURY WINTHROP RESPONDS TO LATHAM’S PRESS RELEASE CONCERNING FRODE JENSEN Pillsbury Winthrop, in response to a press release issued by Latham & Watkins on September 3, 2002 announcing that Frode Jensen, a corporate securities partner in Pillsbury Winthrop’s Stamford Connecticut office is joining the New York office of Latham & Watkins, would like to correct some possible misperceptions caused by the Latham release. Pillsbury Winthrop previously had intended not to comment on Mr. Jensen’s departure in order to downplay the event. However, as a result of Latham’s press release Pillsbury Winthrop Chair, Mary Cranston, explained that Mr. Jensen’s departure comes on the heels of sexual harassment allegations involving Mr. Jensen and a significant decline in his productivity. According to Ms. Cranston, Mr. Jensen has been largely absent from the Stamford office since the start of this year. “Our firm values respect and integrity above all else. We investigated the harassment claims, concluded that there was a reasonable likelihood that harassment had occurred and responded with a variety of measures. It is always sad to lose a friend and colleague to another firm, however, under the circumstances of the past year, Mr. Jensen’s move is probably in the best interest of all concerned, and we wish him well with his new firm.” Ms. Cranston further stated that to her knowledge, Latham & Watkins did not contact anyone in Pillsbury Winthrop’s management in connection with a reference check for Mr. Jensen.

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